Dave Lory is the co-director of the New Music Seminar (NMS) which takes place in New York next month. Lory works as a part-time professor at William Paterson University and is the owner of DJL Music Productions, which does production of live shows, events and tour management. Not only has he has managed tours for Lady GaGa, Semi Precious Stones and Kid Cudi , but has also worked with Bon Jovi, KISS, Shania Twain, Elvis Costello and many others as an artist. Dave Lory gives us a sample of what to expect at the NMS in NY next month.
What is the New Music Seminar and how is it different than other music conferences?
We started the New Music Seminar for two main reasons:
- To re-create the new music industry with our partners and others like we did with the original New Music Seminar in the 80’s and 90’s and
- work together with our Partners in order to assists artists to break out of the glut of releases and above the noise floor in order to have success.
We are doing this by having very scripted Movements on fan relationship management, Tedstyle lectures on how artists can make more money, no matter where they are at in their career, and how to get a solid fan base in multiple markets on their own in order to have a financially sound business as an artist. We also have 22 mentoring sessions where the delegates can ask questions one-on-one with various industry professionals about their specific needs in regards to their career. The NMS is not genre specific like most conferences, which have panels on specific musical styles and focus on the main ones such as hip hop, rock, etc. What we teach at NMS applies to all artists. You can be in classical, rock, hip hop, latin, it does not matters, the same principals apply in regards to touring and fan relationship management.
We have no conflicts in regards to the schedule which allows the delegates to attend everything they want and because we are in one location, the networking opportunities to help their career is above and beyond any other seminar you will attend. Everyone is in the same venue and there is no separation between the CEO’s and the delegates, so real business is getting done. Most conferences have multiple activities where a delegate has to decide on what they are going to miss. At NMS we specifically want everyone to attend everything and why we call it a curriculum.
We were attending other conferences and they were still putting on seminars like we did in the 80’s and 90’s and they were not providing the information the artists, managers and others were needing to work in today’s “NEW” music business. Our partners and us have put together the NMS New Music Business Guidebook as an example, which instead of ads and delegate listings like most conferences have, we have a book given to all attending delegates that is packed with useful forms, do’s and don’t’s, promotion and marketing tips, websites, blogs and other information that can help their career. It is a great resource guide that a delegate can use over and over again.
Another big difference is our “Artist on the Verge” Project. We select through research, artists that are already selling music, merchandise, concert tickets and are making noise both on and offline. We will be publishing the top 100 artists never signed to a major or major independent label and giving them the attention they deserve for their hard work in doing it on their own. Out of these top 100, we bring in the top 3 artists to perform at our only showcase, so all the attention with the media and industry is on these three artists during NMS. The winner will receive over $50,000 in promotion, marketing, consultations and equipment and hopefully will help expose them to the masses in a way they could not of done on their own. Most conferences will have over a thousand artists vying for the attention of people attending a particular conference, whereas at NMS, the 3 artists selected get all the attention.
Should upcoming artists aspire to be signed by major labels, or is the new music business reality more focused on DIY success?
We do not recommend for artists to sign or not to sign to a major or independent label. To us it is something that is not worth discussing at NMS. This is the biggest difference between us and other conferences. If this happens great, but really these things happen as a result of your success, otherwise it is like playing the lottery. Your odds of winning are slim to none. What we show the delegates is that unless they are going 30 to 50 miles an hour, labels just do not sign artists anymore. There is no artist development at the labels. An artist must do this themselves with the help of a great team around them. We show artists how to get to this point and at the time they are approached to sign with a label, they can make that decision to sign, or keep doing what they are doing on their own.
It is not so much DIY, as that implies they are actually doing it on their own. What we teach and show delegates at NMS, is that there are different ways to put the proper team around them, think outside the box, and bring in the people that can help them have success without a major or an independent label.
In your opinion, what artists are getting it "right" in the New Music Business model?
At NMS LA last February, we showcased 3 artists that are now breaking out and I would like to think we helped a little bit in them doing so, but they already had been working incredibly hard in breaking above the noise floor on their own. Semi Precious Weapons were touring and grinding it out every night for a few years, meeting fans after their shows every night at the merchandise booth, selling merchandise and getting one fan at a time. They were passed on by every label last summer and kept doing what they were doing and that is being very unique, having great songs and a great work ethic in managing their fans and not caving in to the flavor of the month. By the early winter in 2009, they had secured a tour with Lady Gaga for an entire year and then Interscope and other labels wanted to sign them. The band did nothing different during this time other than being successful and why they got their record deal. The other two artists on the bill that night in Los Angeles were UNI and Family of the Year and they are breaking out now as well for the same reasons. They all had really great managers as well who guided them along the way to their success.
As an experienced tour producer, what tips can you give for musicians who are just starting to play outside their hometowns and plan a first tour?
It is about repetition. You do not get great at anything right away. It takes practice, and I do not mean in the garage, but in a venue in front of an audience. An artist should play for free at first because it is hard for a club promoter to turn down an offer that does not cost them anything. A club hires an artist because they bring in people who pay to see them live. The only way to do this is building a fan base through your social sites and street marketing, getting the music out there and building a demand. It is very important to get a fan who can rally others in a market before you play there to put up posters, get the word out about who you are in order to attract people to attend the show. You can do this several ways. I know of a group who played in a market to only 25 people the first time. They got as many names and email addresses from these 25 people that night. The second time they came to town, they asked each of them to bring a friend and they would give them a free CD. If they brought two friends or more, they also got a free t-shirt. This is how you do it, one fan at a time.
An artist should not think of a tour, but rather market to market, one step at a time. In 6 months and before they know it, they will have 10 markets they can play in. Another important aspect is to not be a jerk. Thank everyone at the venue at the end of the night. Never complain about anything like the sound, no room on stage and things like that. Be on time and be easy to deal with or you will never get another chance. Remember, you mean nothing in terms of income to the venue the first few times you play a market and people only deal with the artists they like and who are easy to deal with.
You've managed huge talent like the Allman Brothers and Courtney Love. What is the role of a modern artist manager? Has it changed in the last 10 years?
You are still managing people. You have to have short and long term plans as always. What has changed is the business is more fragmented, so it takes longer to break an artist, so you have to stay the course even more so. You might not see the results as quickly as you did in previous years. The role now is about assembling a great team and not just an attorney or business manager although these are important. It is about understanding social media, the network of great web sites that can help promote your artist and working all of them simultaneously in one direction. You cannot count on the support as you use to, think you are going to get a record deal and they do the work for you. Prepare to roll up your sleeves and put in the time and the detail like never before. It is a lot more work intensive than in the past.
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